Lake Karakul is about 200 km or 4 hours drive south of Kashgar (a must-see destination for Silk Road tours) along the Karakorum Highway. It is also slightly north (~20 km) of Tashkurgan, the last settlement in China on the Karakorum Highway which cuts through the Kunlun Shan, the Pamirs and Karakorum and skims close to the Hindu Kush and Tian Shan within China. That's a lot of mountain ranges for a bit of careless driving on India's part 50 million years ago - smack into southern Asia and no 'No Claims Bonus' - or insurance for that matter.
The only mountain range I've not mentioned is the Himalaya - to get to that, you need to continue south on the Karakorum Highway from Tashkurgan (Chinese immigration), over the Khunjerab Pass into Pakistan (remember Chinese and Pakistani visas) and down through Sust (Pakistani immigration), Hunza and Gilgit before you see the Himalayas. Continuing south will take you down the Indus Gorge past Taxalia (the now abandoned birthplace of Tantric Buddhism) to the end of the highway in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Another useless fact is that at 4730 m, the aforementioned Khunjerab Pass in the Karakorums is the highest international border crossing in the world - it's only open part of the year (1st May to 31st October) as the pass gets closed by snow in the winter.
So when you visit the lake for your China travel deals, you should check if some pass is closed.
The big fella in the background is called Mustagh Ata at 7546 m high, however, off to the left and bigger again is the less well known Kongur at 7719 m (not in view - it was in the huff, hiding in cloud when I was there). The lake itself is either at 3,600 m altitude or 3,900 m - I'm not sure. This means take care with the altitude as even short visits can lead to altitude sickness. The lake itself is spectacularly situated amongst the eastern extremities of the Pamir mountains, the bulk of which are in nearby Tajikistan. You've also got Afghanistan nearby to this point and turning off to the right southbound from Kashgar before reaching Lake Karakul will take you there instead of Pakistan.
For more via China travel agents.
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